E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia

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Introduction

The rapid growth in technology has had critical implications for our educational systems worldwide. In essence, the little existing knowledge in educational systems is undergoing rapid obsolescence, and on the other hand, the population is increasing to the point where our education systems are facing a great challenge of outdatedness. This, therefore, calls for better systems without increasing the cost drastically (Awalt, 2003, p.67). One possible solution to this is developing a system of education particularly designed to use new technology. Traditionally, distance learning was primarily designed to serve older students who may have missed an opportunity for higher education. However, things have changed in the recent past whereby e-learning is the preferred mode of study by most students not only the old but also the young. “In this regard, e-learning is shaking up education as it is offering a solution to distance, time, and education gap as well as cost problems” (Garry, 2007, p.2).

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“Online learning or e-learning is a field of education that focuses on the dissemination of academic knowledge and information to different geographical locations” (Garry, 2007, p.2). As a formalised teaching system specifically designed to be carried out remotely, distance learning has become a very popular learning element in all universities around the world. Facilitated through Internet and web portals, distance learning has a significant trend towards the repertoire of most educational institutions in the future. “It is more than ever clear that distance learning is an important element of future education as it provides a comfortable, easy, fast and affordable learning environment” (Awalt, 2003, p.67). The recent and evolving way of learning in the global classroom has been realised in quite a number of universities, particularly in developed countries. “Distance learning can be described to be made up of a range of programmes, curricula and teaching/learning strategies” (Commeaux, 1990, p.232) “As a recent and evolving way of learning, distance learning is an emerging global network in the mainstream of education and training” (Awalt, 2003, p.72). With regards to leadership concerning network development and access to education, this study investigates students of KSA’ University. More specifically, this study will investigate their perception towards online learning, the problems they face in applying distance learning as well as the need and accessibility to resources available on the web.

“Distance learning has a radical effect of transforming education sector in many countries and the need to upgrade knowledge and competence using new information communication technologies is needed” (Abrani, 1996, p.40). This proposal examines online learning in higher education and assesses the attitude of faculty and students of universities in KSA towards applying online learning environments (Distance learning) and Interactive Video Conferences (IVC) in higher education using a Likert Scale of 1 to 5. All four universities are listed along and represent their online learning experience. All their perceptions on online learning experience will be measured against 4 variables and a Likert scale of 1-5 is scrutinised to determine whether students’ attitudes towards online education is more conservative than their perception. “Different methods such as t-test, descriptive statistics, and correlation study for attitudes will be used to conclude our analysis” (Creswell, 2008, p.105). This research examines four universities in KSA using Likert Scales to measure the degree of the students’ attitudes and assess their perception towards applying online learning environments (Distance learning) and Interactive Video Conferences (IVC) in higher education.

Statement of Problem

The term distance learning reflects both the online learning environment and interactive video conferencing (IVC). It includes greater dimensions of openness and flexibility in terms of access to information and curriculum structure. “The area of interest includes how the participant utilise technology such as Web-Based Instructions (WBI) to get reading materials” (Abdulkarim, 2007, p.3). The study also investigates distance learning opportunities applied inside prison for offenders interested in continuing their education. “It however brought us to the conclusion that distance learning opportunity was not available for individuals who had not attended school before and learning environment was limited to certain subjects” (Abrani, 1996, p.42).

Therefore, this proposal attempts to explore distance learning techniques in a distance learning environment and the opportunities and difficulties encountered by students in applying distance learning systems. The utilisation of DL as an education system globally has a lot of advantages such as providing students with learning and training opportunities held outside a formal classroom. The impact is already significant in developed countries and a majority of developing countries are seeking to take part in emerging global educational opportunities.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the attitude of students at NB University towards applying online learning environments (eLearning or Distance learning) and Interactive Video Conferences (IVC) in higher education. This will present a general impression of the learning processes, systems and theories. The researcher will be interested in analyzing the attitudes of the students towards this development. The opinion of students and other stakeholders such as teachers and the administration will be sought to contextualize those of the students. This is in addition to the examination of the factors that lead to the attitudes, differences in attitudes held between different students among other issues. Below is a list of the major purposes of this research:

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  • An examination of the relationships between students’ attitudes according to demographics includes the importance of using distance learning, education, background, different counties, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and training experience.
  • An examination of the opinions and attitudes of students towards eLearning (Barnard, 2006,p.87).
  • An examination of the relationship between students’ attitudes in KSA institutions of higher learning (Al-Khalifa, 2008, p.392).
  • Challenges faced by students in the use of e-Learning in Higher Education in Saudi Arabia.
  • Challenges faced by students in the use of IVC / ITV in Higher Education in KSA.

Background Information

For several years Middle East countries have been trying to access distance learning courses for students using two-way and interactive video conferencing (IVC) in smaller numbers (Galbreath, 1995, p.36). The problem has often been attributed to a lack of internet accessibility, a problem we tend to investigate throughout the study. Two areas of our primary interest are the use of IVC rooms and online training for students in higher education centres of KSA (Bannan-Ritland, 2002, p.172). It has been evidenced that all Arab countries, particularly in the three mentioned countries have a similar experience concerning online learning. These investigative reports also indicated that KSA will need more online classes due to its fast growing population as evidenced in the recent statistics which reported an increase from 10 million people in 2002 to 25 Million in 2010.

Importance of the Study (Key Strength)

Provide feedback to the higher education management responsible for online learning. “Key areas of interest were; students’ perception towards higher education, need to improve and students’ attitudes, a suitable system for university use, reasons for supporting online learning and construction requirements for IVC rooms” (Garrison, 1990, p.21)

For the case of my country; KSA for example, online learning with suitable IVC rooms will bridge the gap of lower education levels. Elango and Selvam, (2008) studies confirmed that “education programs are directly responsible for the recent rise in the dropout rate and decrease in crimes because many of those who drop out of high school or fail to qualify for admission to college or universities do not possess the skills necessary to compete for jobs” (p.34). This is evident in my location where new universities and colleges in small cities or towns experienced lower turn out due to stringent admission rules. This creates a context in which people see limited options, and therefore, fewer people are able to make it through colleges and universities lowering graduates too much lower levels. In this regard, online learning and IVC rooms will lower educational costs for individual students and even for college building costs that experience lower student turnouts.

Almegren and his colleague (2007, p.98) also evidence that “distant learning technology coined in the brick and mortar instruction can recruit students in different geographical location alleviating the need for travel expenses and presents the same lecture materials different times”. Allen (2005) also adds “depending upon the technology used ‘e.g. Internet-based program’, it often allows students greater scheduling flexibility, particularly if the student has other obligations such as work or family life that would otherwise prohibit them from attending a “traditional” instructional institution” (p.247). In this regard, utilising new technology in internet-based programs will be able to create many faculties which were often ignored. Arab countries are evident with gender inequalities, for example, distance learning will be a viable solution to ensure both men and women experience equal education opportunities.

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Research Questions (RQ)

The study was aimed at assessing the relationship between students’ attitudes towards applying online learning education (e-learning) and Interactive Video Conferences (IVC) in higher education in KSA. Demographics in terms of their background were measured against variables of the importance of using distant learning, education, background, difference counties, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and training experience.

Study questions examined were;

  1. What are students’ attitudes toward applying eLearning (Online Learning) in higher education in KSA?
  2. What are students’ attitudes toward Video conference interactive (VIC) in higher education in KSA?
  3. What is the relationship between students’ attitudes according to demographic variables (such as population) and the importance of using distance learning, education, background, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and training experience?
  4. What challenges and problems are the students facing through the use of online learning at KSA Universities?
  5. What do students consider to be the challenges faced in using distance learning at NBU?
  6. What are students opinions towards Higher Education needs in KSA regarding the use of the internet?

Hypothesis Development

The purpose of this paper is to determine or assess the relationship between students’ attitudes towards applying online learning education (e-learning) and Interactive Video Conferences (IVC) in higher education in KSA. Demographics in terms of their background and variables such as the importance of using e-learning, education, background, difference counties, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and training experience. The hypotheses generated are the following:

Since different methods can be used to important of using distance learning, education, background, different counties, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and training experience. This may suggest that differences between the mentioned variables will indicate no relationships regarding demographic variables.

H1: There will be no statistically significant differences between students towards applying or using online learning in higher education in KSA University based on demographic characteristics such as Level of education, background, difference counties, major, age, gender, skills and access to technology, and experience.

Significance of the Study

The research will be very important to the students in KSA and the world at large. This is because it will highlight the attitudes that are held by students and other stakeholders as far as the use of e-learning in the Saudi Arabian education sector is concerned (Almohaisen, 2007, p.76). It is a fact beyond doubt that e-learning in higher education in the KSA education system has received little attention in the recent past. This is given the fact that it is a new addition to the system. As such, the findings of this study will go a long way in enriching the knowledge base that exists in this field.

The findings will also be instrumental to the future adoption of the technology in this country. This is because policymakers will make use of the attitudes and opinions held by students and other members as brought to light by this study to inform their formulation of policies towards the same. The policies will thus address the needs and requirements of students and other stakeholders in the sector. In addition, the findings will also be used as a guide to other researches that will be carried out in the future in this field. Future researchers will consult these findings to contextualize their studies. This is because the current study will identify areas that need future attention, lacunas that need the attention of future researchers to be filled.

Chickering and Gamson (1987) mentioned that learning is enhanced when it is more like a team effort than a solo race. They add that “good learning, like good work, is collaborative and social, not competitive and isolated. Working with others often increases involvement in learning and sharing one’s ideas and responding to others reactions improves thinking and deepens understanding” (p.7). In this regard, “this research will be very important to the students of KSA and the world at large as it highlights the impact of online schooling on the entire education system as well” (Angeli and book, 2003, p.33). It is evidenced that online learning enables extensibility, accessibility and suitability as students proceed through training at their own pace and their place- a strategy that enables the three countries to save a lot on finances in building structures that could never be used.

Al- Khalifa (2008) also argues “the benefits to include savings in the implementation of faculties likely to experience lower turnouts” (p. 390). He also adds that online systems only concentrate on the process of learning and since many people now have access to computers and the internet, education can be easily accessed. (Almegren et al, 2007) also adds that “being able to reach people who would otherwise have missed the opportunity, online learning is of great value” (p. 196). The new technology will ameliorate student capabilities to access better learning resources. “The research, therefore, concludes that more relevance on online education is against the backdrop of several challenges that the whole education systems are facing” (Almegren et al, 2007, p.198).

“There is an evident relationship between access to technology and ability to obtain education through an online environment” (Chou and Liu, 2005, 67). The four universities from different locations in KSA were suitable for our study due to their inadequate learning infrastructures such as buildings, schools, universities, and teachers of universities. “Many students in the Arab countries including KSA experienced difficulties in obtaining degrees in their respective universities due to inadequate learning facilities such as labs and classes and higher associated costs” (Barron, 1987, p.258). Recent studies in distant learning in the three mentioned countries revealed an emerging trend whereby new colleges offering different majors in smaller cities such as Taiwan with a smaller population was discovered to be uncertain.

Limitations and Delimitations of the Research

This research was limited to NBU in KSA. During the research, the course structure was found to have an inverse relationship to impact score which indicated that instructors for online classes may also serve as instructional designers. In this regard, “adequate attention is required to be given to course structure to ensure well organised and flexible schedules are appropriated to meet learners’ needs” (Gay et al, 2008, p.179). Secondly, the relationship between students’ satisfaction and their perception in this study towards online experience with their course instructor positively correlated to their satisfaction needs. This study however evaluated students’ perception of the adequacy of their satisfaction within their online course and failed to differentiate between different courses undertaken by each student.

Possible limitations could be that it was restricted in terms of students in universities and tertiary colleges alone. This leaves out other education systems, such as high school and the like. “As such, generalizations for the whole of the Saudi Arabian education system, and that of the world in extension, cannot be effectively made” (Abouchedid and Eid, 2004, p.24). Other education systems will not be studied given the limited resources of the study.

Recommendations

It is recommended that future research replicates the study across a range of education systems in different geographical areas like countries and this would greatly improve generalization. Additionally, researchers or investigators “can increase the models used for study and test other components that influence online learning” (Armatas et al, 2005, p. 86).

Conclusion

Both online learning environments and interactive video conferencing (IVC) facilitated a conducive learning environment for students of different geographical locations. Thus, the reason for this research was to generate more knowledge and improve understanding of distance learning and IVC on the concept of education. “All countries were remarkably applauded for encouraging learning through web platforms. And therefore to facilitate higher enrolment levels, investing in learning tools that will facilitate effectiveness in their courses is needed” Coventry, 2002, p.1).. Future research can be examined on larger sample sizes and target specific countries. Researchers can apply different methodologies to one hypothesis to determine whether it will produce the same result on the reconciliation attitudes and perception. Other variable items can be conducted to decide whether they will produce the same results. Since the study is focused specifically on KSA universities, future research may consider using universities in other countries to conduct further analysis. “Distant learning has a radical effect on transforming education sector in many countries and the need to upgrade knowledge and competence in using new information communication technologies is needed” Coventry, 2002, p.1).

Reference List

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Al-Khalifa, H. (2008). “Building an Arabic Learning Object Repository with an Ad Hoc Recommendation Engine”. 10th International Conference on Information Integration and Web-Based Applications and Services Pp. 390-394. Linz, Austria.

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ChalkyPapers. (2022, March 10). E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia. Retrieved from https://chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/

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ChalkyPapers. (2022, March 10). E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia. https://chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/

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"E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia." ChalkyPapers, 10 Mar. 2022, chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/.

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ChalkyPapers. (2022) 'E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia'. 10 March.

References

ChalkyPapers. 2022. "E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia." March 10, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/.

1. ChalkyPapers. "E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia." March 10, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/.


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ChalkyPapers. "E-Learning and IVC in the Universities of Saudi Arabia." March 10, 2022. https://chalkypapers.com/e-learning-and-ivc-in-the-universities-of-saudi-arabia/.